Winter-runs Are Heeeeere: SW WA Fishin’ Report

Joe Hymer knows how to get my attention. In his Southwest Washington fishing roundup, fired off his Vancouver desk oh, about 10 minutes ago, is the following bolded, supersized mention for the Cowlitz River: “four early winter-run adults.”

Yee-hah! Our favorite season is officially here!! And it comes just as we put the final touches on the November issue’s 31-page Northwest steelhead preview.

Here’s the rest of the fishing news from around Southwest Washington, according to Hymer:


Anglers are reminded that under statewide freshwater rules, October 31 is the last day to fish for game fish in most rivers, streams, and beaver ponds.

Mainstem Grays from mouth to South Fork and West fork from mouth to hatchery intake/footbridge – Salmon and steelhead season extended through October 25. Salmon daily limit is 6 fish of which no more than 2 adult chinook may be retained.  Release chum, wild coho, and wild chinook.  All chinook must be adipose and/or ventral fin clipped to be retained.

In addition, up to 2 hatchery steelhead may be retained. Wild steelhead and all other game fish must be released.   

Lower portions of Abernathy, Coal, Mill (Cowlitz Co.), Germany creeks and the Coweeman River –  Re-open to fishing for hatchery steelhead and other game fish beginning November 1.

Cowlitz River – Boat and bank anglers continue to catch coho on the lower Cowlitz.   Bank anglers at the barrier dam are also catching some coho and Chinook (most of which were released).

Last week, Tacoma Power recovered 9,890 coho adults, 701 jacks, 1,268 fall chinook adults, 215 jacks, 39 summer-run steelhead adults, four early winter-run steelhead adults, 159 sea-run cutthroat trout, one chum and one pink salmon adult during seven days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

During the week Tacoma Power employees released 813 fall Chinook adults, 154 jacks, 72 coho adults and two jacks into Mayfield Lake at the Ike Kinswa State Park boat launch, 297 coho adults and 10 jacks, 258 fall chinook adults and 41 jacks into the Tilton River at Gust Backstrom Park in Morton, 1,565 coho adults and 133 jacks into Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, and 687 coho adults and 40 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Skate Creek Bridge in Packwood, Washington.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,470 cubic feet per second on Monday, October 19, and water visibility is 12 feet.

Kalama River – Has improved for coho.  Anglers are also catching some steelhead.

Lewis River – Bright, late stock coho have appeared in the catch at the salmon hatchery.  Some steelhead and fall Chinook (which have to be released) were also caught.  About 800 hatchery late stock coho were counted in the traps last week.

Fisherman and pleasure boaters planning to be on the Columbia or lower Lewis Rivers should be aware that a safety zone will be established prior to blasting operations scheduled to occur each day beginning November 1.  For more info, see

Wind River – Generally light effort although boat anglers caught some coho which were released.  October 31 is the last scheduled day of the salmon season.

Drano Lake – Light effort though boat anglers are catching some fish.

Klickitat River – Heavy bank angling effort and increased coho catch on the lower river.  Nearly 50 vehicles were counted yesterday (Sunday Oct. 18) morning on the lower couple miles of the river.  Bank anglers averaged an adult coho kept per rod.  Some fall Chinook were also observed in the catch.

Under permanent rules to protect naturally spawning fall chinook, all chinook must be released from 400’ above #5 fishway upstream beginning November 1.  Fisher Hill Bridge downstream will remain open for chinook retention.

Yakima River – WDFW staff interviewed 220 anglers fishing for salmon. Effort was similar to the week prior. An estimated 189 adult fall chinook, 22 jack chinook, and 72 adult coho caught during the week. The total harvest is currently estimated at 403 adult chinook, 58 jack chinook, 82 adult coho, and 4 coho jacks. Wild steelhead caught and released for the fishery is estimated at 16 fish.  Salmon fishery is scheduled to remain open through October 22.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Most of the effort and coho catch was found in the Camas/Washougal area.  Fifty boats were counted at Lady Island during the Saturday October 17 flight.     Some coho and steelhead were also caught in the lower river though effort was light.

Under permanent rules to protect naturally spawning fall chinook and chum, fishing for salmon is closed from Beacon Rock to Bonneville Dam beginning November 1.

Bonneville Pool – At the mouth of the Klickitat, boat anglers averaged nearly an adult coho kept per rod.  Just over sixty boats were counted there yesterday.  Some coho are also being caught at the mouth of the White Salmon River though most were unmarked fish and had to be released.

Hanford Reach – The fall chinook sport fishery was closed to the retention of any salmon on October 14. Anglers were allowed to continue to fish for hatchery steelhead and catch and release only for salmon through October 22.  The number of boats fishing for salmon dropped dramatically after October 14.  An estimated 276 fall chinook were harvested during the final three days of retention (193 adults & 83 jacks). Only 48 adult and 39 jack chinook were caught and released after October 14.  To date, 6,532 adult fall chinook and 1,997 jacks have been harvested.


Lower Columbia from the Wauana powerlines to Bonneville Dam – About one in ten bank anglers on the Washington side just below Bonneville Dam had kept a legal size sturgeon when sampled last Thursday.  Effort remains fairly high in the gorge with 265 WA and 294 OR bank anglers counted during the Saturday October 17 flight.   Effort was light on the rest of the lower river.


Swift Reservoir – Game fish and salmon season has been extended through November.  Reports of good fishing for rainbows averaging 12-13” with  some up to 20”.

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